Celebrating National Acadian Day in 2020

Written by guest blogger, Ziyan, Halifax Regional Municipality Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Acadie ma patrie…

Every year, Acadians and Francophones around the world celebrate the National Acadian Day on August 15/“Quinzou.” Dressed in Acadian colours (red, blue, white, and yellow), they march down the street and make as much noise as possible to mark the day with the tradition of “Tintamarre”.

This year, although the pandemic has kept most of us at our homes, there are plenty of ways to celebrate this special occasion while following public health guidelines. We have crafted a list of best “staycation” options for a taste of Acadia in HRM, with a focus on one of the oldest Acadian communities in Atlantic Canada, West Chezzetcook. Bon voyage!

1. Official flag raising

Join our Mayor at the official flag raising on Friday August 14 at 9:00 AM at Grand Parade in Halifax. The ceremony includes a municipal proclamation by Mayor Mike Savage, the raising of the Acadian flag with Ave Maris Stella sung by our local talent Melissa Comeau. Maximum of 250 attendees will be admitted. Physical distancing rules must be followed. Wearing a mask is highly recommended. The first 25 participants will receive free masks with Acadian symbols. If you cannot attend in person, the event will be live streamed here on Facebook, opens a new window.

2. Acadian House Museum of Chezzetcook

Join the local “Quinzou” celebration at the Acadian House Museum of Chezzetcook, opens a new window during the weekend of August 15 &16. Museum tours are offered throughout the day. Festivities start at noon on both days. Learn to churn butter, make bread and open clams. Food, live music and screening of Quinzou show will available on site. A limit of 75 visitors will be admitted on the historic site. Physical distancing rules must be followed.

3. Virtual Quinzou show

Follow the live streaming of the provincial virtual Quinzou show on August 15. Watch it online

4.  Georges Island

Visit Georges Island National Historic Site to learn about the history of Acadian people this summer. Georges Island, in the heart of Halifax Harbour, is home to Fort Charlotte, which served as one of the four forts where Acadians were held over the years of the Deportation. This summer, Georges Island National Historic Site will welcome visitors between12:00-5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, from August 8 to September 6. Plan your trip, opens a new window and be among the first explorers! 

5. Nova Scotia's Acadia

Feeling like venturing across the Province to discover Nova Scotia’s Acadia? Build your own tourism trail itinerary with the online guide: Visitez Nouvelle-Écosse. Bonne route et restez en sécurité!

6. Read on

Tempted by a virtual trip to Acadia with a book? Check out the Library's list of books about Acadian history and culture. Bonne lecture! 

7. Acadie de Chezzetcook

Don’t limit your exploration of Acadia to the day of “Quinzou!” Did you know that about half an hour drive from Dartmouth, in the depths of Chezzetcook inlet, there is a small Acadian village that can trace its first Acadian settlers as far back as the 1740s? It is the largest Acadian community in HRM and one of the oldest surviving Acadian communities in Atlantic Canada, along with the Île-Madame community in Cape Breton.

During the deportation of Acadians, between 1758 and 1762, around 2000 Acadians were brought to Halifax as prisoners waiting to be deported. Some of them were deported while others were released in 1764. Among the prisoners were Acadians from the Chezzetcook area. One night, they slipped away, aided by a Mi’kmaq raiding party, and returned to their homes. They were joined by another group of Acadians from Cape Breton. The next morning, upon discovering the escape, the British commanders decided it was not worth the effort to recapture them. Some of these early settlers had family names such as Bellefontaine, LaPierre, Wolfe, Roma and Petitpas, and their descendants can still be found in the Chezzetcook area to this day.

Throughout the years, Acadians of Chezzetcook made their living from farming, fishing, forestry work, shipbuilding as well as clam harvesting and processing.

Today, as a rural community isolated in a strong English-speaking environment, this Acadian community faces unique challenges sustaining its ancestral language and identity. However, the active local community organization Acadie de Chezzetcook, opens a new window, presents a variety of activities and events year-round while managing the Acadian historic site and museum that bring to life the unique Acadian traditions and culture.

This summer, the historic site (79 Hill Road, West Chezzetcook) welcomes visitors Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00am to 4:30pm. Take a stroll through time to learn about the life of Acadians upon their return to Nova Scotia after the deportation at the Acadian House Museum, built in 1850. Sit in front of a piece of local artwork in the gallery and enjoy an authentic Acadian meal or a cup of tea at the tea room La Cuisine de Brigitte. Don’t forget to bring your mask!

If you want to learn more about this unique community, check out the book by Ronald Labelle Acadian Life in Chezzetcook.

Acadian Life in Chezzetcook